In any company there are many processes that need to be improved at any given time. When the time and resources are limited, we need to prioritize the options and pick those processes first, that give the quickest and best results in the short amount of time span and are relatively easy to implement. This can be compared to an apple tree where there are low hanging fruit that is easy and quicker to pick compared to the rest of the fruit. One should always pick the low hanging processes first and fix them for problems and proceed to fix the rest of the processes.
When the quality level of a process is not very high, we can use the basic six sigma tools. Typically the sigma level for such processes is 2σ or 3σ. Once the quality level gets better pass beyond 3σ, we will need to use more sophisticated tools such as DOE (Design of Experiments), SPC (Statistical Process Control) and DSS (Design for Six Sigma).
How to identify improvement opportunities ?
- Identify the top 10 problems with high variation, top hidden factory problems, backlogs, or high down time issues.
- For each of the above problems, identify all the underlying processes.
- Pick the processes that are:
- Very well defined
- Have easily identifiable starting and ending points
- Have clearly defined objectives
Do Not Pick
- Processes that are being fixed by another team
- Problems for which the solution is identified but causes of the problem are not known
Once you go through the above list, you will have now identified a bunch of processes that meet the above criterion. Now you need use “Selection Grid” or “Selection Matrix” method to prioritize from this list and pick the process with the highest “Selection grid/Matrix Score”.
We need to identify and define all possible criterion to which each of these projects can be measured. Good examples of criterion are:
- Doability by the existing team (resource criterion)
- Financial Viability (Financial criterion)
- Importance to other divisions (Cross division/company criterion)
- How important is it to the customer (Customer Criterion)
Once you define these criterion, assign a weight-age on a scale of 1 to 3 to each of the above criterion.
Create an excel worksheet with a table containing criterion along the horizontal axis (columns) and the projects along the vertical axis (rows). Insert one row above the criterion labels and in that put the weight of the criterion (which is a constant across all projects). Now for each of the projects, define how well it meets a given criterion on a scale of 1-5. Put that number in the cell corresponding to the Project row and criterion column. Once this grid is filled with the scores for all projects for all criterion, we need to compute the overall score of the project which is the sum of products of criterion weightage and the project score for meeting that criterion.
For example, for project 1, the score is: 1X3 + 3X2 + 3X1 + 3X3 + 2X2 + 5X1 = 30
Once the total score is computed for all projects, you can order them in descending sort order and the top project with the highest score is the first choice to pick.
Download Free Six Sigma Project Selection Tools and Templates
Download the for Six sigma Project Selection Grid template in Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (xlsx) format
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